Brushing up desert riding technique. In Cambridgeshire…
THE SUN IS UP AND IT’S HOT. All the vents in my adventure suit are open, my Camelback ‘hydration system’ is full of water and my tinted goggles are in place. I’m all set for the Sahara. Or for the East Anglian Fens, which are baking in 2018’s, much appreciated, summer heatwave. I’ve skived off work this morning to go trail riding with Andy Lonnen from Cambridgeshire TRF. The Trail Riders Fellowship is a campaigning group that fights to maintain historic rights of way, and it’s also a social organisation that brings people together to go trail riding. I’m on my old Moto Morini, Andy’s riding a KTM EXC 695, but he started trail riding a few years ago on a BMW R1100GS. Following Andy down the old Fenland tracks and droves is made harder by the dust. Sometimes you can’t see the trail. It hasn’t rained properly for weeks and the ground is rock hard. Maintaining progress on mud might be more of a challenge, but at least it’s soft when you do fall off. In mid-july the combine harvesters are out, but there are no walkers, just a few semi-naked sun worshippers topping up their tans. Having not ridden my bike on dirt since last autumn I’m a bit rusty and it takes a while to settle into a relaxed ride. Standing up straight, leaning forward, loose grip on the bars, steer with your feet. We’re riding close to Ely and Sutton, but I’ve no idea where we’re going. That’s the joy of having an experienced local guide who knows the legal rights of way. I just follow the dust trail and observe our position relative to the tower of Ely cathedral which rises up from the flat fen landscape. I’d previously thought a bit of gradient (up or down) was an essential part of a good trail, but these are decent routes, though Andy suggests they get a lot harder in winter slime, and there are plenty of them. Back at our start point after two hours we’ve covered 35 miles, with maybe 50% off tarmac The Cambridgeshire TRF group has around 110 members and organise a led-ride every month. These vary between short two hour rides and all day events, typically attracting four to seven riders. ‘I don’t think there is a typical member,’ says Andy, ‘some people ride big adventure bikes, but they tend not to come out in the winter. I started on a GS, but they’re too heavy really. We have some riders on 350 and 450 enduro bikes too. I think my 690 is a perfect compromise, but you can do it on almost anything really.’ There are 46 regional TRF groups in England and Wales. They are the best way to meet and ride with other people on legal rights of way. But the campaigning function of the organisation is just as important. Find your local group at trf.org.uk
‘The combine harvesters are out, but there are no walkers, just a few semi-naked sun worshippers topping up tans’
Been riding for: 41 years Owns: 3x Moto Morinis, a 1948 Matchless and a 1965 Mobylette.